Many of us are still getting over the fact that a 4-year-old girl who accidentally hit and injured a New York City woman with her bicycle can be sued for negligence.
Now a man serving a 10-year manslaughter sentence in a Connecticut prison is suing the parents of a 14-year-old he struck and killed, alleging negligence because they let him ride his bicycle in the street without a helmet. If this sounds bizarre, it is and it isn’t. Here’s how the case has played out:
According to the Associated Press, David Weaving was recklessly passing another car at about 83 mph in a 45-mph zone when he struck cyclist Matthew Kenney in 2007. Matthew, a well-liked seventh-grader who played several sports, suffered severe head and internal injuries, broken bones, and lacerations. He was declared brain dead the next day. A jury convicted Weaving of manslaughter and other crimes in December 2008.
Shortly after Weaving’s conviction, Stephen and Joanne Kenney filed a civil suit, seeking $15,000 in damages for his negligence. They’re also seeking permission from the state claims commissioner to sue the Department of Motor Vehicles because his driver’s license had not been permanently revoked, in spite of FIVE! drunken driving charges. DMV has admitted it made a mistake.
Weaving responded with a handwritten countersuit accusing the Kenneys of “contributory negligence.” He’s also seeking more than $15,000 in damages, saying he’s endured “great mental and emotional pain and suffering,” wrongful conviction and imprisonment, and the loss of his “capacity to carry on in life’s activities.”
How is this even possible?
Okay, I know you all have your face buried in your hands or are shaking your heads by now. Blaming the victim of the crime is one of the most pathetic and offensive reactions a person can have to their misbehavior. The unfortunate truth is, if someone hits you while you’re riding your bicycle, and they honestly think it’s your fault, they have a right to sue. Moreover, if you were negligent, your behavior will most likely reduce any civil penalty you might have won. Think of it as one more reason to scrupulously obey traffic laws while riding.